5 Ways Retailers Like Hudson’s Bay and Office Depot are Transforming Excess Space

Woman Opening Retail Store

By Tricia McKinnon

Many retailers have found themselves with a difficult problem: what should they do with space that is not fully utilized. Since there isn’t a clear-cut answer, retailers are experimenting with different ideas and concepts hoping to figure out what will drive more traffic into their stores.  Take a look at what these five retailers are doing to lure customers in.   

1. Hudson’s Bay’s (HBC) flagship store in downtown Toronto has transformed a part of its 7th floor into Instagram heaven.  Called #the7TO HBC says the new space is: “an Instagrammer’s dream complete with eight unique backdrops and photo moments.” Each of the eight colourful areas within the popup art exhibition has its own theme.  One area features pink flamingoes, while another one is reminiscent of Jurassic Park and another has its walls and ceiling covered with pink flowers. The department store opened the exhibit on January 21, 2019 and it is open from 10:00 am until store closing time for the remainder of the winter season without a scheduled closing date.  Access to the popup is free.

2. Office Depot is carving out space in its stores to create co-working spaces called the Workonomy Hub. The spaces offer desks and offices for rent as well as access to printing and copying stations. Users can also get tech support if required. According to Office Depot CEO Gerry Smith: “we’re not trying to be WeWork and go to the high-end of the market. We want to be right in the mid-tier.”  Renting a desk at the Workonomy in San Jose costs $400 per month which is $75 cheaper than what it costs to rent a desk at a WeWork location in the same area.  

3.  Department store Debenhams has opened Sweat! gyms in three of its locations.  Customers that sign up at Sweat! receive Debenhams beauty club reward points. The more often they use the gym the more points they receive. The CEO of Debenhams, Sergio Bucher,  said that its strategy focuses on leisure and “social shopping”. The first gym opened in 2018.  Debenhams is also in talks to rent out some of its space to WeWork.

4. The Market @ Macy is an area within Macy’s where pop-up brands rotate in and out. Brands using the space must sign on to stay there for at least one month.   There is a one-time fee to use the space and the brands keep all of the revenue generated in the space. Speaking about the concept, Marc Mastronardi, Macy’s EVP of new business development and innovation said: "overwhelmingly, what we think makes this so attractive for Macy's and our customers is it continues to drive customers to stores by giving a constant break of discovery.”  

5. Discount grocery store Aldi, has signed leases to open up to ten stores within Kohl’s department stores. Kohl’s is already providing space to Amazon to sell Amazon devices such as the Echo and you can read more about that here.  


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Tricia McKinnonTrends, Canada